1. PSYCHOMAGIC - “MUTATED LOVE” [MUSIC]

    Often times we reach back into the past to get our inspiration. With today’s featured act, that definitely seems to be the case, as they produce tunes that are firmly rooted in 60’s pop. It’s Psychomagic!

    Psychomagic is a Portland, OR-based psych-influenced group who makes catchy pop tunes. They can play ‘em fast ("I Wanna Be That Man") or they can slow ‘em down ("Play The Fool"), but no matter how they play, it always sounds raw, building on that 60’s influence. The keys (whether a Rhodes tone or an organ tone) play a prominent role throughout their self-titled debut album. The guitar tones have a nice layer of reverb, some slap back delay here and there, and for the most part there isn’t too much distortion, although there are times when it gets crunchy. All in all, a good listen for any fans of 60’s or 70’s psychedelic pop/rock.

    You can grab that self-titled record of Psychomagic’s on Bandcamp, and if you’re in Portland, OR, you can likely go catch them live sometime. The best way to keep up with that would be on their Facebook page. I’m assuming they’ll be taking a little break as they just got back from a West Coast tour that saw them go as far as Phoenix, AZ (which isn’t really on the West Coast, but whatever, semantics). Either way, I’m sure you’ll be able to catch them soon — and if not, we’ll probably feature some live coverage of them eventually.

    So, the track today is “Mutated Love”, and it’s one of my favorites off Psychomagic’s LP. It’s one of the more piano-driven tunes off the record, based around an infectious organ riff. The drums are an interesting case as they are heavily focused on snare rolls, but they’re nicely mixed so they don’t end up being obnoxious. Subtle delay on the vocals helps create an atmosphere that’s haunting yet dreamy. Form-wise it keeps true to pop songs and is structured in a no-nonsense fashion — verse, chorus, verse, chorus, instrumental break, chorus — and kudos to them for recognizing that the tune was catchy enough not to overdo. The guitar work on this track, while not the main focus, plays its role with utmost precision, swirling around with a bit of a phase, arpeggiated at times, ringing out when needed — essentially providing a balance for the keys and making for a tune that really works.

    You can find “Mutated Love” as well as the rest of this month’s featured tracks on the free download of the GB! April 2014 Mixtape, the latest in our monthly mixtape series. Come back and get it on April 30!

     


  2. NBA PLAYOFFS - WEST GAME 1 OVER-REACTIONS [SPORTS]

    [Editor’s Note: Caleb wrote these after the Game 1’s from the first round wrapped up, and I was late on posting it.] These are called “Five-Piece Nuggets” — five reactions from each conference’s first round game ones. They’re definitely worth the 99 cents. Western Conference review below, and Eastern Conference was earlier today.

    Five-Piece Nuggets

    From the West

    • Memphis will bounce back. I’m not sure why, but it seemed like Memphis was surprised by OKC’s athleticism. OKC destroyed the Grizzlies in transition in that first half, but you know what prompts transition points? Missed shots and turnovers. Memphis isn’t the greatest offensive team, but they’re better than that. Shots will fall for them next game, limiting OKC’s transition game. Do they win? Probably not, but they won’t get blown out again.
    • Portland-Houston is going to be fun. Howard, Beverly, and Lopez all fouled out. Aldridge and Lillard scored 46 and 31 respectively. Harden, Howard, and Parsons scored 27, 27, and 24. I thought Houston would exploit the Blazers down low, but Howard couldn’t finish at the left side of the rim, and Harden plays a slow pace. The teams combined for 242 points. That’s amazing.
    • Clips need Blake. Blake Griffin only played 19 minutes in Game 1 of Clips-Warriors because of foul trouble, and eventually fouled out towards the end of the fourth quarter. Some of the calls were questionable, but expect the Clippers to come back in Game 2 with a Blake oriented offense. He will beat David Lee in the post-every time, and if they double, he’ll just dish to Paul/Reddick/Jordan.
    • Spurs-Mavs was boring. I expected more out of a Dirk-Timmy matchup, but I’m sure it’ll get better as the series progresses. I was very impressed with Devin Harris’s ability to take the Mavs offense and turn it into his own. In the first half of the game, Dirk, VC, and Monta couldn’t buy a shot. I’m also not sold on this double PG line up that Carlisle is starting. Monta AND Calderon on the floor means defensive lapses. Tony Parker had his way with them and I won’t be shocked if this ends in 4.
    • OKC-HOU/POR WCF. I hate to give up the Clips so soon, but if they can’t take advantage of the defensive woes of Golden State, then they won’t be able to shut down OKC in a seven game series. On the other hand, as efficient as San Antonio is, they are vulnerable to pure athleticism. Both Portland and Houston have the opportunity to eliminate them in the next round.

    Those are my quick thoughts / overreactions from the first games. I’ll be back with my analysis / predictions after the quarter finals are finished.

    Want more? Check the Eastern Conference reactions!

     


  3. NBA PLAYOFFS - EAST GAME 1 OVER-REACTIONS [SPORTS]

    [Editor’s Note: Caleb wrote these after the Game 1’s from the first round wrapped up, and I was late on posting it.] These are called “Five-Piece Nuggets” — five reactions from each conference’s first round game ones. They’re definitely worth the 99 cents. Eastern Conference review below, Western Conference coming later today.

    Five-Piece Nuggets

    From the East

    • The Pacers are a mess. This isn’t just a matter of offensive chemistry or turnovers; they appear almost heartless. The drive and grit of the Pacers of old appears almost as a legend of sorts, and I can’t imagine this is solely the cause of the Danny Granger – Evan Turner trade. Something else is going on in that locker room.
    • The Wizards are bigger than I thought. I knew Chicago would have trouble scoring down the stretch, but I attributed that to a pure lack of offensive skills. It turns out, with Nene and Gortat on the floor together, the Wizards are actually a fairly solid defensive team. They rotate on time and close out on three-pointers with no hesitation. Now if Wall and Beal get going…
    • Toronto has hope. Despite an apparent inability to handle the ball, the Raptors have to feel relatively good about their chances in this series. DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross never really got going and they were in a position to win throughout the game. I still think Brooklyn takes it all, but if Toronto’s stars can get going, they could prove me wrong.
    • Miami is bored. James Jones hasn’t been a regular in the Heat’s rotation for quite some time, yet somehow he found himself on the court for extended minutes, dropping 12 points as if this were normal. There were times when Miami had Cole, Chalmers, Jones, Lebron, and Birdman on the floor. Coach Spo is using this series to experiment. #norespect
    • WAS-MIA ECF. Would I put money on this? No. But Miami is the favorite to represent the Eastern Conference, and provided they get through the first round, Washington would only have the winner of IND-ATL in their way.

    Those are my quick thoughts/overreactions from the first games. I’ll be back with my analysis/predictions after the quarter finals are finished.

    Come back for the Western Conference in a couple hours!

     


  4. THE TAMED WEST - “FLOATING” [MUSIC]

    As April draws to a close, it leaves us wondering how it is that we’re already this far into the year. Doesn’t it feel like it was just January yesterday? Either way, to take your mind off of the fleeting days, we bring you some wonderfully psychedelic tunes courtesy of Portland, OR-based act The Tamed West.

    The Tamed West is a fairly new act, having existed for a bit over a year, and judging from their track “Floating” there’s reason to be excited for their future. They play a brand of psychedelic indie rock that has a certain complexity to it, but isn’t so obtuse that it’s unapproachable. They’re self-described “garage” rock, and honestly, I often find that using the word “garage” these days is a way of saying “sloppily produced” — this however, is nowhere near the case. “Floating” is technically still a demo, and it sounds pretty fucking pristine already. I’m definitely excited to see what these guys put out later this year.

    You’ll be able to catch The Tamed West at the Langano Lounge on April 25th as part of the Lil’ Ass Boombox Show Series, and they’re currently working on putting out a five or six song release sometime in the coming months. Whenever that happens, I’ll probably post about it. And of course, as always, you can keep up with all of The Tamed West’s upcoming shows and releases on their Facebook page, as well as on their Bandcamp.

    An aptly named track, “Floating” sets the bar high for The Tamed West. Awash with gooey phasers and coated in a nice layer of delay, it’s difficult to believe that this sound could be accomplished by a three piece. The vocal melodies are simple and catchy, airy and light in their timbre. The lead guitar accompanies the vocal line nicely, and then when it needs to break off on its own, it works well. While there is a lot of guitar on this track, it’s never overplayed, which tends to be true all around — each element knows its role and doesn’t try to dominate. They strike a sweet balance, and therefore, the whole thing is indeed floating.

    You can find “Floating” as well as the rest of this month’s featured tracks on the free download of the GB! April 2014 Mixtape, the latest in our monthly mixtape series. Come back and get it on April 30!

     


  5. NBA 2014 PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS - WEST [SPORTS]

    This blog is like 90% music and 10% other. Today, we have some of the “other” — it’s NBA playoff predictions from Caleb Sarvis. Eastern Conference predictions happened earlier, and now it’s time for the Western Conference. Enjoy!

    It’s my favorite time of the year! NBA Playoffs have arrived and begin Saturday night in one the more interesting line ups I’ve seen in the last couple of years. I’m here to bring my predictions and offer what I believe matters in each series. After all, the NBA playoffs is always about two things: 1) Who is the best player in the series? 2) Matchups. I’ll post this preview in two installments; one for the East, one for the West.

    Western Conference

    (1) San Antonio vs (8) Dallas

    In the regular season the Spurs swept the Mavericks 4 games to none, but don’t count out Dirk and Monta just yet. The Spurs have become the first team since the NBA-ABA Merger to not have a single player average 30 minutes a game. I think we can agree that well-rested is an understatement. The veteran leadership of Dirk, VC, and Marion have made the critics (including myself) of Monta Ellis look like fools. He found a place to thrive in… but only for a game or two. Coach Pop and the resilient Spurs may not sweep the Mavs, but they’ll dispose of them easily.

    PREDICTION: San Antonio in 5.

    (2) Oklahoma City vs (7) Memphis

    Kendrick Perkins is the most irritating player in this series. He’s slow on rotations and I don’t think I’ve seen him jump this entire season. Fortunately for the Thunder, they have Kevin Durant. The Grizzlies are going to be able to pound the ball low with Gasol and Z-Bo. I love Ibaka, but shot blocking ability isn’t going to be enough to stop Randolph in the post. Look for the Thunder to double down low and force the Grizzlies to shoot from the perimeter. Also, keep an eye on the Conley-Westbrook matchup. Conley might be the most underrated point guard in the league. He’s definitely top 5 this season and will bother Westbrook with his peskiness, forcing Westbrook to take contested jumpers. But in the end, KD is KD.

    PREDICTION: Thunder in 6.

    (3) Los Angeles vs (6) Golden State

    Most interesting matchup by far… until Andrew Bogut broke his rib. These teams split the regular season with Golden State firing on all cylinders in their win. Bogut is a solid presence in the paint and presented a real challenge for Blake and DeAndre before breaking his rib. Now, the paint is wide open for Blake, who may be the best player in this series. His rebounding has gone down every year, but Blake has excellent ball handling for a power forward, his footwork in the post has only gotten better, and on top of all that, he can now shoot regularly from about 15 feet out. Steph Curry is going to light it up, and Klay Thompson is going to contribute, but on the defensive end, GSW is lacking. Unless GSW wants to switch Iguodala onto CP3, I don’t see how Chris Paul doesn’t have a field day with the Warriors’ guards. Then again, Steph Curry could drop 40-10 in the blink of an eye.

    PREDICTION: Clippers in 7.

    (4) Houston vs (5) Portland

    This is going to be a lot of fun to watch. I love Damian Lillard. I love James Harden. I love LaMarcus Aldridge. I love Chandler Parsons. Heck, I can even dig a Dwight Howard – Robin Lopez battle down low. It’ll be like watching Jax from Mortal Kombat battling Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons. The reality is that Houston is built to win this series. James Harden is officially the best 2-guard in the league and rightly so. Dwight Howard is no longer the best center, but he still has the ability to throw down 30-20 on any given night. Also, don’t forget PATRICK BEVERLY. He destroyed Westbrook’s knee last year and could be after Damian Lillard this year. Never take your eyes off Patrick Beverly. EVER.

    PREDICTION: Rockets in 5.

    In case you missed it, we had the Eastern Conference preview earlier today. Check it out!